Undercover Agents Foster Disdain, Not Student Safety

    Ah, Sun God – the only day of the year when UCSD’s normally mild-mannered student body lets loose and basks in the liberating glow of legendary college debauchery. But lurking among those splashing in the Price Center fountain and incoherently stumbling around Sun God lawn are the day’s most dreaded appurtenance: 45-year-olds bedecked in football jerseys and Hawaiian shirts, awkwardly shouldering backpacks. Are these newcomers an influx of alumni reliving their glory days, or just over-the-hill students?

    Not exactly. Say welcome to UCSD’s increased Sun God police presence.

    On a day of such traditional licentiousness, safety is – and should be – the foremost priority for the university. However, the current approach toward managing underage drinking and dangerous behavior doesn’t precisely seem focused on protecting and serving.

    Despite the abundant amout of undercover badge-wielders, uniformed officers were few and far between. The logic behind this distinctly uneven division of labor is somewhat enigmatic.

    Uniformed officers act symbolically as well as physically. When students note the presence of police uniforms, they self-censor, easily decreasing delinquent behavior without more tickets or arrests. If students are cited, at least the exchange feels honest. Uniforms also enable those who need an officer’s help to find one, and strategically placed perimeters of visible police make everyone feel safer.

    Undercover officers, however, have a less clear-cut effect. Does handing out tickets really bolster safety? Most importantly, instead of viewing the officers as people who are there to protect and serve, students look at undercover units (who are not as incognito as their superiors would like to believe) with disdain and distrust.

    A concentration on uniformed officers would bring the focus back to campus safety instead of wasting manpower scribbling tickets and dumping screwdrivers.

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